Why Quitting Writing Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

 

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It’s been one year since I quit writing.

When I posted about this, it was heart-breaking.

I cried.

I regretted sharing my decision.

Then I realized how much I needed to post it. To feel it. To publicly admit it.

Here’s the thing. The biggie. I’ve “quit” writing before but I’ve never really quit.

I’ve had a meltdown over a story or a freak-out about my computer crashing (save your work!) or stopped writing out of frustration because I’d been interrupted for the fifteenth time. I’ve had writer’s block, run short on time, gotten sick, had self-doubt… You name it.

I’ve thrown my hands up and shouted, “I quit!”

Those are probably relatable to most writers. There is always something trying to block your way, drain your energy, waste your time, or stifle your creativity.

But when I wrote that post, I well and truly quit.

When I published that post, something inside me shifted.

This wasn’t a writer’s temper tantrum. This was me letting go of my dream. I waited two whole agonizing months to return.

Though, in the grand scheme of things, this wasn’t a long time, it felt like forever.

I thought about losing the creative outlet I’d been using since I was nine years old. I thought about flash and writing prompts and how much I’d miss those. But, honestly, what I thought about most was the fact that the characters in my novels would never finish telling me their stories. I thought about the fact that I would never write another word about these people.

I cried. Again.

 

Truth is, I was in a bad spot and thought quitting writing would take some pressure off. I thought it would give me more time and energy to deal with the crap. What I found was, by taking writing away, I was less able to deal with things.

You know what? I am overwhelmed. I do have a lot going on. There are shitty things happening.

There were a year ago and there still are today.

I did need a break, but not from writing.

I thought my life demanded I let go of my dream. I thought I had to kill a piece of myself, to make room for a new piece—one that could deal with all of the drama, chaos, and responsibilities. But it broke my spirit when I quit.

Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve loved putting pencil to paper and creating stories. I’ve always known writing is part of me. It’s not that I discovered this last year, it’s that I got a reality slap. A reminder that I need writing. Not just that I love it—I need it.

I had to feel this, really feel this loss, to fully appreciate how much I needed it.

I am a writer. It’s what I do. It’s who I am.

 

 

The fact that I quit writing played a big part in the publishing of Hinting at Shadows. One year ago I stopped writing and, almost exactly one year later, I am a newly published author. Of a book that I love. One that I’m proud of. One that shows we never know what the future holds. One that proves we cannot bury our dreams.

 

Have you ever given up, quit, or let go of something you loved? Did this hurt or help you? Or both? Did you ever return to what you left?

 

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68 thoughts on “Why Quitting Writing Is the Best Thing I’ve Ever Done

  1. I think sometimes a total break is needed, but the problem when you’re a writer is that you need to write for the release! It was a brave thing to admit, and I loved your post! I hope things get better soon! Happy new year!

    Liked by 5 people

  2. I’ve experienced a similar crisis. Although I didn’t consciously quit, I just slowly progressively stopped writing. The result was hell. It took me a while to figure out that it was writing that was missing, because I had so slowly phased it out, I’d barely noticed it was gone. For over 3 years now, I have chosen writing because it is quite necessary for me.

    I’m glad you didn’t really quit.

    I don’t think I’ve said it before, so congratulations on your book. It’s a major accomplishment and sign of perseverance.

    Liked by 5 people

    • Yes. Resulting hell. I can understand that. What an experience that must have been to slowly realize you had phased out something you needed. How awful. I’m so glad you’re choosing what you need now. 💖 It’s crucial to be self-aware yet, too often, we’re not.

      That realization and feeling of never writing again was something I needed. I’m glad I went through it, I guess. But don’t want to again. And thank you! Much appreciated. Happy New Year. 🎉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m glad your actions led to realizations of appreciation. And I really hope life takes it a bit easier on you. I know you had some unbearably rough times lately. At least you can cling to the fact that you know you need to write, and you produce good work. Hope things start looking up for you!

    Liked by 3 people

    • They did indeed lead to appreciation. Yes, life has been a bit rough… I was going to say “lately” but, let’s face it, since I’m writing this a year later. Life has been shitty. But, also, yes, I have my writing.

      Thank you on both counts! 💖

      Like

  4. There were times when I quit writing. The times when I stopped writing lasted for months at a time. The big reason why was because I wasn’t doing anything with a degree I got. I wasn’t writing novels like I thought I should be doing. I wasn’t really serious about writing. I lacked the discipline to write every day. All these things led to me quitting often.

    But I found myself going back to writing because there was a part of me that wouldn’t let go of writing. And I got encouragement from family; my wife and mother, in particular. So I took it back up for as many times that I quit.

    I’m still writing, but there was a time last year when I took a break from writing because I felt burnt out. I wasn’t enjoying it like I had before. That and because I wasn’t meeting certain goals I set for myself. I had to re-evaluate what i wanted to accomplish with my writing. After that time off, I felt rejuvenated. I refocused my energy on what I loved to do. I reset my goals to the strengths I possessed. But I want to push myself, get out of my comfort zone. So I am trying new things this year to expand my horizons. Will the urge to quit be there? Yes, but I’m not letting it get to me.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ugh. I’ve said before (but will again) “should” shouldn’t be a word. We really do a number on ourselves about what we should be doing. And I don’t believe people need to write every day. I’ve never believed that. If you were drawn back to it, I’m glad you went. 🙂 Happy you’re still writing.

      I love checking in with myself, seeing what’s working and what needs to change. Best way to go about it, I think. Breaks can be helpful but good to know you’re not giving in to quitting if that’s not what you really want. Here’s to getting out our comfort zones! Love that!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. The last five years have been the worst years of my entire life, We are turning a corner but it isn’t over. I began to write my novel as a real life ‘hell’ of a novel began to develop. My real life became jaw-dropping novel. Now it may get legal, I have an interested journalist and someone needs to write it and I’m afraid it may have to be me, though I don’t want to live through it again 😦
    The book I set out to write has been my beautiful, beautiful refuge, I love it, everything about it, I think my writing has not suffered because of the back story in my life, it has made my writing stronger and more determined. And it protected my sanity. To me, it may be pressure but it’s a different kind of pressure.Don’t throw away the thing you love the most to make room for the shit you have to endure. The thing you love will give you the strength, I think. Thoughtful post 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • I am so sorry to hear this. Although it gives you fodder for a novel, if you don’t want to relive it, don’t. If it gives you an outlet, do. You have to make the decision that’s best for you.

      This: “Don’t throw away the thing you love the most to make room for the shit you have to endure. The thing you love will give you the strength…” Yes. This is what I had to learn. Thank you. 💖 Take good care of yourself.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thanks so much for kind words. What I have learned is that shit happens, no one is immune, and all is never what it seems. Oh, and it is still a beautiful world out there. There is so much to be cheerful about despite all the rubbish going on inside and outside of lives. I realise that I am very lucky that I can see that. Really appreciate your comments xx

        Liked by 1 person

      • Exactly that. Pretty much everything you said. 😀 Shit happens and things are not always as they seem. I wrote about this a few times. Some people are more comfortable sharing their stories in public than others. But no one is immune and, just because someone seems to have it all together, doesn’t mean she does. I love your cheerful attitude. I am very grateful but need to work on my “cheerful”. Thank you. 💖

        Liked by 1 person

    • I’m old and wise enough to know “never say never” but…

      No, I will NEVER do this again. A small break, perhaps. But, if this taught me anything, it’s that I can’t live without writing. It was a good lesson learned the hard way!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. There are very few things I’ve quit or given up on in my life. Three friendships, one woman I loved, and smoking. The friendships I cut ties with vary. One was a toxic person that didn’t know boundaries and was becoming violent (fun!). Another was someone who made me choose between him and my current wife. As you can see, I’m married. And the other is someone whom I was very close to but pride gets in the way and that’s the only one I’d be interested in saving. In regards to the woman in question, hindsight is and shall always be 20/20 and being brutally honest, she was a waste of my love… and there was a lot of it. That one was one of the hardest breaks I’ve ever done although I was quit on and then after months of trying to salvage even a friendship, my effort has consistently dropped until almost reaching Kelvin zero. It was brutally hard to be honest and I almost lost my mind… and I’m not exaggerating. IN the long run, it’s been a blessing because as I mentioned, hindsight is 20/20 and I was able to see that this person is molded by the person she is interested in. Hefty words like love, forever, and always were tossed around… except that in my case I meant them I think much deeper and crashed when I realized I was but a pastime. We are still cordial but the more time passes, the less I feel any sort of need to invest in anything that person does… and it’s been a while, so that just shows how long these processes take. As for smoking, working on my 11th year, sans smoking and I never smoked out of addiction, I really enjoyed it. That’s why Liam in Only Human smokes though. Thanks to him, I don’t have to smoke. I miss it, but I don’t need it. Like the friendships and that long forgotten love. As for writing… so often it’s been my lifeline… I don’t know who I’d be without writing, and I’m not inclined on finding out. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    • Aw, lovely. Hindsight is wonderful and a kick in the ass isn’t it? It makes me happy to know you’ve gotten rid of toxic people even if it was difficult. That’s something I need to do.
      Yes. This: ” I don’t know who I’d be without writing, and I’m not inclined on finding out.” I don’t fancy that. I honestly thought quitting was something I needed to do for my life and all the crap but not writing was awful. Painful.
      I love that Liam keeps you from not smoking. 😀 Can’t even imagine you smoking. I picture you surfing, not smoking. That’s my image. Don’t ruin it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hindsight can be a kick in the ass but more often than not, it helps put things in perspective. And the toxic people was harder than you’d think but it’s been way for the best. And the image of me smoking although meh, was part of who I was although I’m very happy to be ten years+ smoke free. So will work on surfing more to further improve the image 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Oh, boy, does this strike a chord in me. I’m so overwhelmed with my day job, exercise, blogging, rewriting, trying to find a way to make more income, chores, eating, sleeping, life, ya know? I’ve been thinking of hanging up the “gone fishing” sign on my blog and putting my fiction writing on the back burner. Focus solely on building my copywriting business.

    Your experience gives me pause. Something to consider!

    Liked by 3 people

    • A lot of writers (and non-writers for that matter) get overwhelmed. We are all different and we all have different lives. No one can say one way or another what’s right for another person. However… 😉 I will say this to you, my friend: I do believe that taking a break, rearranging priorities, putting something on the back burner, whatever, will help with that “checking in” thing so we don’t lose touch with our needs, our SELF. I had a universe-sized reality slap and it hurt. Don’t let it get to that point. 💖 Take care of yourself.

      Like

  8. I took a break from blogging in order to put my book of short stories together. I missed it so much, but I took that break and actually got the book together and published it. Then, when I could, I went back to blogging. Nothings changed, but the break from it was the best thing I did to get the book together. Too many people say they are taking a blogging break and then go on to not actually do it. However, I suppose it does boil down to how long you intend to take that break for?

    Liked by 2 people

    • You had a productive break for sure. Taking a break to accomplish something is very different. It’s a positive (with a great result for you). 🙂 You’re right, I have seen a lot of people say they’re taking a break but then not doing it. Well, in part, life dictates what one can and can’t do. I intended to stop completely so I’d say “long” would be the only answer I could give here. I see now it never would have worked but felt it was something I had to do.

      Liked by 1 person

      • And there’s nothing wrong in giving anything a go if you feel it’s the right thing to do at the time. What I can never understand is why people say they are going to do something to help themselves and then not go ahead with it, resulting in no change for them. I recently read a blog post where the author said she was no longer going to blog because it was too time-consuming. The following day she published a post saying she was going to continue blogging because so many people had been in touch with her asking her not to stop blogging. Maybe she realised her mistake but, to me, I think she’s probably going to come up against the same problem again very soon.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Oh. Ugh. Okay, well… That’s tough. There were many times I wanted to do something for myself and didn’t wind up doing it for various reasons (kids, health problems, family issues…) but I do hate to see someone not do something they need. It makes me sad. With blogging? I don’t know what this person is facing in her life but if the reason the break wasn’t taken is because others asked her not to, I fear you may be right in that she’ll wind up back in a place where she needs a break. 😕

        Liked by 1 person

  9. If it wasn’t clear before I would have supported any decision you made as long as it gave you a glimmer of happiness, but am gladder still that you decided to come back. I thought you were so brave then, to be honest with yourself even if others didn’t like what you discovered. Braver still to admit you might have been wrong and continue fighting after such an announcement. Then you went and pressed that publish button.

    Well, I am not sure how you are going to top that this year, but I am happy to know you will still be around so I can see how you might try.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You are too kind. A glimmer of happiness… 💖 Sounds dreamy right now. I’m not sure about “brave” but it wasn’t easy. It was, honestly, more difficult than publishing. Anyway, it gave me something I wouldn’t have had if I hadn’t done it.

      Well, I don’t know about topping it but I do have plans… Hope to have my book I’ve been working on out this year (and serious headway on the others waiting patiently). Also, a logo of some sort from a certain Allie P. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  10. This is a great post, Sarah, and something that I think many writers go through. Sometimes quitting just takes the pressure off and makes room for new creativity. The muse lets us breathe and do our thing, and then draws us back in. I love how you mentioned all those characters in your head who’d never get to tell their stories. I feel that way all the time. I write for myself, but also for all of them 🙂 I’m glad you started again. Happy Writing!

    Liked by 2 people

    • I’ll say taking a break removes some of the pressure but quitting was a hard lesson learned. I think breaks are good, as you say, for creativity (and mental health). Occasionally.
      Yes! The characters. True story. That really got me. The thought of never writing another word about them… Brutal. Glad to find another writer who feels that. 💖 I do write for me but also for them. Thank you! And happy writing to you, as well. (Hope you are feeling better.)

      Liked by 1 person

  11. This makes me happy, although I’m sad to hear there are many unpleasant things in your life. 😦

    I’m glad you never gave up blogging.

    I know exactly what you mean about needing a release. When I started my blog it was during an incredibly difficult time, but I needed to focus on Something Else. And I still need it.

    Plus, you meet some remarkable people, like you, Sarah.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Meh, that’s life, right? I couldn’t give up blogging when that’s all I had left. I would have gone bonkers if I didn’t have something…a journal…anything. Ah, yes. The “Something Else”. (If that’s not the name of a movie, it should be.) Happy to hear you are able to use your blog this way though I am sorry to hear you need it for that. As for meeting remarkable people… I’m all about that, lovely lady. You are a treasure. 💖 I’m glad I know you, George Bailey.

      Thank you.

      Like

  12. You needed to experiment and take a breather. Yes writing consumes much of our time on many levels. But the bottom line, if you’re a writer at heart, it’s almost part of our survival. Like you, writing has been my savior most of my love, even when it becomes burdensome, it’s also the part of the oxygen that keeps us breathing. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I think it’s fine to take a break, even a long one, when you need to. There have been times when I haven’t written for months. During those times, I was living my life, which later gave me more experiences and ideas and emotions for writing later. Take care and much peace.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It really is fine (even necessary at times) to take a break. Yes! Getting out there and living life not only helps your sanity, it gives you fodder for writing. 🙂 Breaks are good. I’m all for those. Stopping for good is not quite as good. At least for me. Peace and chocolate.

      Like

  14. Sigh. So many things I could say. You’re right, it was a f•••ing awful time and there aren’t enough words to express how glad I am you got through it. SO glad it helped. But don’t ever do that again, I can’t cope! :p :p :p You are such a different person now, it’s amazing, you should be proud of everything not just the discovery, but your persistence, your book, your crazy amazing talent, and the fact you cope, every.single.day.

    x

    Liked by 1 person

    • It did help. But it was a hard lesson. I did get through it but more was waiting. There is always more crap waiting. I deal. Some days better than others. Although this turned out to be a good thing for me, I will NEVER do it again.

      I do feel different. Isn’t that odd? And I am proud. Thank you for your incredibly kind words. 💖 And thanks for your recognition, for your support, for being you.

      Like

  15. I’m sorry that you’re overwhelmed and stressed, and that shitty things continue to happen in your life. Apologies that one of those things is me getting to your post so late. 🙂
    I’m pleased that you found that writing is a part of you, and that you cannot let it go. Your book “Hinting at Shadows” is a great read and I’m so pleased you got to finish it. I wish you much success with it. You, and it, deserve it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Norah… You not visiting right away or missing a post or two will NEVER be a source of upset or stress for me.

      Yeah, I guess everyone has “shitty things”, whatever they are. But I’m glad, too, that I couldn’t let go of writing. I really thought it would help and it wound up hurting. So here I am. 🙂 Thank you so much for your comment about my book! So glad you enjoyed it and I always appreciate your lovely comments. Thank you. 💖

      Liked by 1 person

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